1. Do visit the Eiffel Tower. Don’t take your travel photos from the top.
The Eiffel Tower is one of those icons that really lives up to its romantic Hollywood expectations. I squealed like a little girl when I saw the lights dance up and down its golden frame in the evening. It is a sight not to be missed, however, don’t go to the top of the tower for your Kodak moment. If your looking for the best spot to photograph the Parisian skyline at night, plant your tripod at the top of the Arc De Triomphe. This way you can get the both the Eiffel Tower and the Roue de Paris in your shots!
2. Do see the Louvre. Don’t get swindled.
From the mythological sculptures, to the grand architecture, to the shockingly small Mona Lisa, seeing everything at the Lourvre can easily consume hours of your day, but is well deserving of your time. Don’t start your experience on a low note by getting swindled. While walking across the Pont de Arts, we lost 80 euros to some scammers. They were playing dice on the street and when we stopped to see what they were doing, one man distracted me with innocent conversation while another snagged my boyfriend’s money. If you see anyone playing dice games, card games, or holding a clipboard on the street, take caution because any of these people are skilled at spotting and taking advantage of tourists.
3. Do stay in an Air B&B. Don’t be afraid to dine in.
Air B&B can be a great resource for budget travel in Paris. We paid only $45 per night for our own private apartment with a kitchenette in the 18th arrondissement. While it may have not been the flashiest option, it gave us a place to lay our heads down at the end of the day and was walking distance from the Marcadet-Poissonniers metro stop which got us around the city. We also saved money by shopping local for meals. Of course we went to a couple fancier dinners, but other times we wanted a night in and a less expensive bottle of wine after a long day of sightseeing. We shopped often at the supermarket chain Franprix for snacks and quick breakfast items and lived off of pre-cooked rotisserie chicken for a few days from a corner butcher shop. Unless you are a total foodie and need a gourmet tour de France for your pallet, dining in can really take some of the pressure off picking places to eat that meet the standards of your busy itinerary and budget.
4. Do play dress up at Louis Vuitton. Don’t spend a fortune.
You must take a day to shop ’till you drop in fashionable Paris. With tons of high end designer stores lining the streets, it can be tempting to make a splurge that will give you buyer’s remorse or alternatively you’ll limit yourself to envious window shopping. Usually I do the latter, however playing a little pretend proved to be a memorable time. Even if you can’t afford those glamorous glasses or gowns, snap some dress-up photos for later shopping inspiration. Smaller boutiques or commercial stores like H&M in Paris will still have clothes with Parisian flair for less.
5. Don’t take a car. Do take the metro.
The metro system in Paris is extremely efficient and will transport you close to all of the major attractions. Paris is very walkable in comparison to other cities, so there is really no need to bring a car or take a taxi. A few times we took Uber, but if you don’t speak French, it is difficult to communicate with the drivers when there is an issue-like when the app doesn’t provide your exact pick up location. Also the wait time for Uber is often longer than the metro and much more costly. If you decide to explore via metro, you have the option to buy a multi-day metro pass or one way tickets from either machines or tellers inside the station.
6. Do try the Macarons. Don’t try just one!
If you do nothing else in Paris, stuff yourself with macarons! While they are commonly associated with the French, these tiny colorful cookies believe it or not, have Italian origins and were brought to the French around 1533 by the chef of Catherine de Medicis who would later marry King Henry II of France. History aside, they can be found all over the city and are perfect for your sweet tooth. Besides, since they are such a small size, you have an excuse to eat the whole box!